Fourth of July is almost here – apple pie, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and coleslaw! There will be parades marching down Main Streets all across America, and besides the barbecues people will flock to beaches and go away to the mountains or get out on their boats. At night many of us will be sitting around bonfires, roasting marshmallows, and looking up to see fireworks light the sky. Above most of these festivities, an American flag will be flying in the wind.
I am a registered Independent and I will be flying my flag outside my house. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, and people of all other parties are free to do so. The flag – patriotic symbol that it is – should be an equal opportunity for all Americans to show their love of country. As the song goes, “It’s the emblem of/the land I love/the home of the free and the brave.”
What worries me is the divisiveness that has hovered over this nation during the Presidential primaries; it is tearing us apart. All over the media, the Internet, and especially sites like Facebook, we get partisan posts that are rife with rancor. You get such ugly accusations, name calling, and assertions that you cannot be a “real American” if you are – fill in the blank with whatever party you hate most. It is depressing to see that we have come to this, and it seems it is getting worse day by day.
The problem is that this bitterness diffuses the nature of Fourth of July, when we celebrate Independence Day – the day when we made a stand for liberty and justice against oppression. It’s that notion of “independence” that should unite us, bind us, not tear us apart. When I hear someone say, “Oh he’s a _____, he can’t love this country” I know that person has no clue about not only love of country but what it is to be an American.
A long time ago my uncle was in local politics (in Queens, NY) and got to know some heavy hitters over the years – Alphonse D’Amato, Tip O’Neill, and others. He was friendly with people from both sides of the aisle. One time over drinks with O’Neill, he asked the then Speaker of the House how he got along with President Reagan. Tip claimed that they got along extremely well and that there was never partisan bickering in their dealings. They worked together to get things done.
All these years later I see none of that happening in Washington, on Facebook, or in the media. To get a good idea of how broken things are, all you have to do is to watch MSNBC for a few minutes, switch to CNN, and then to FOX News. The jabbering heads on all these channels will make your mind explode. The panelists bicker among themselves, the anchors make snide remarks if they don’t agree with you, and there is an overall breakdown of civility and lack of credibility that would make Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow turn over in their graves.
Personally, I have had enough. I am more tired of hearing about the 2016 Presidential Campaign than I am of the Kardashians. At this point I just want to tune it all out. It’s a sad indictment of the media and the way they have handled the mess that is going on, but the truth is I just don’t care anymore and wish it were over already.
I have my flag flying outside my house right now, and when I see the flag flying in front of someone else’s house I appreciate it. I don’t think, “That must be the home of another Independent!” It’s the right and privilege of ALL Americans to fly it, as well as people who have immigrated here and now love the country too and want to become citizens. As I mentioned before, the flag is equal opportunity for all to show their love of country, not just for some or those in your political party.
This brings to mind the lyrics of the great song written by Woodie Guthrie: This land is your land/ This land is my land/ From California to the New York island/From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters/This land was made for you and me.” It is the intent of this song to not only celebrate America but also the people living here – ALL the people living here from sea to shining sea.
So do yourselves a favor this Fourth of July – throw the dirty politics into the trash along with your soiled paper plates from the barbecue. Go shake the hands of people not because they are in your political party but because they are your fellow Americans. Stand shoulder to shoulder – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other parties – and lean your heads back and watch the fireworks; when all the blasts of color and loud booms are over, our flag will still be there.